Faculty News Briefs

August 2016

Covering June, July, and August 2016

With collaborators in the UMass College of Information and Computer Sciences and at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Professor George Avrunin received a grant from the National Institutes of Health titled "Developing Standardized Intraoperative Process Models to Enhance Surgical Safety". The project involves modeling key parts of cardiac surgery using a programming language designed for systems in which human experts interact with hardware and software devices, validating the safety of those models using techniques developed for analyzing concurrent computer programs, and then generating context-aware online guidance for the surgical teams from the models. George is the PI on the UMass part of the grant, which is a subcontract to Harvard Medical School.

Graduate student Isabelle Beaudry, working with Professor Krista J Gile, won the Best Student Paper in Applied Statistics at the International Indian Statistical Association (IISA), as part of the IISA 2016 Conference held in Corvallis, OR during the period August 18-21.

In June 2016 Professor Tom Braden gave talks at the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh titled "Modular Representation Theory and Hypertoric Varieties".

Visiting Assistant Professor Stathis Charalampidis and Dr. Chris Gong from Bowdoin College, a former VAP in our department, organized a session titled "Analysis and Applications of the Nonlinear Schroedinger Equation" during the SIAM Conference on Nonlinear Waves and Coherent Structures held in Philadelphia. On August 9, 2016 Stathis gave a talk at this session titled "Dark-Bright Solitons and Their Two-Dimensional Counterparts in Coupled Nonlinear Schrodinger Systems". Information about the session is available at http://meetings.siam.org/sess/dsp_programsess.cfm?SESSIONCODE=23215.

Professor Erin Conlon and a team of researchers from UMass Amherst, the University of New Hampshire, and Hampshire College recently received a three-year $1.9 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy titled "The Who and How of Microbial Control over Soil Carbon Dynamics: a Multi-omics, Stable Isotope, and Modeling Approach". Kristen DeAngelis of the Department of Microbiology at UMass is the PI on the grant, and Erin is the co-PI. The project involves a systems-biology approach to the study of regulatory and metabolic networks of microbes. The long-term goal of the project is to predict the fate of soil carbon by developing mathematical and ecosystem models of soil organic-matter decomposition. These models will incorporate genetic and physiologic information on carbon-use efficiency by microbes, laying the groundwork for expanding predictions of microbial carbon-use efficiency to additional ecosystems. This work is based on experimental samples from Harvard Forest.

Professor Patrick Flaherty is part of a research team that has developed a rapid, low-cost screening method to decipher the gene mutations behind drug resistance. The new method addresses how some chemotherapy agents used on tumors and cancer can stop working because they become resistant to the drug’s effect. For details see ScienMag
<http://scienmag.com/deciphering-the-mutations-behind-drug-resistance/> and Medical Xpress <http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-07-deciphering-mutations-drug-resistance.html>.

In June 2016 Professor Nestor Guillen was a speaker at the Conference on Recent Trends on Elliptic Nonlocal Equations, held at the Fields Institute in Toronto. He was also a speaker at the 3rd Conference on Nonlocal Operators and Partial Differential Equations, held at the Stefan Banach International Mathematical Center in Bedlewo, Poland. In July Nestor taught a minicourse on Stochastic Homogenization of Elliptic Equations aimed at graduate students as part of the 2016 Gene Golub Summer School in Philadelphia.

During the summer Professor Rob Kusner was a research member of MSRI in Berkeley. He delivered a small lecture on the Hyperbolic Geometry of Relationships to a large gathering that celebrated the Montague wedding of colleagues Franz Pedit and Allison Tanguay in June.

On June 27, 2016 Professor Michael Lavine gave a talk at the Army Research Office titled "WHIM: Function Approximation Where It Matters".

Professor Yao Li, together with Molei Tao from Georgia Tech, organized a special session "SS82: Numerical Simulations and Computations for Stochastic Dynamics" at the 11th AIMS Conference on Dynamical Systems, Differential Equations and Applications. The conference was held in Orlando, FL during the period July 1-5, 2016. Yao also gave two talks at the conference. The first, given in the special session that he organized, was titled "A Fast Simulation Method for Markov Jump Processes. The second, given in another special section, was titled “Systematic Measures of ODE-Modeled Complex Networks". In August 2016 Yao gave two invited talks both titled “Polynomial Convergence Rate to Nonequilibrium Steady-State”. The first talk was given on August 1, 2016 in Shenzhen, China at the International Conference on Statistical Properties of Nonequilibrium Dynamical Systems. The second talk was given on August 30 at the PIMS/AMI Seminar at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

Professor Franz Pedit organized the session "Progress in Surface Geometry" at the 2016 Differential Geometry and Applications Conference held in Brno, Czech Republic during the period July 11-15, 2016. As an editor of the Journal of Differential Geometry and Applications, he was invited and participated in the editorial meeting of the journal.

Professor Eric Sommers gave an invited talk at the "Nilpotent Orbits and Representation Theory" workshop, held June 13-16, 2016 at the Scuola Normale in Pisa, Italy. His talk was titled “A Family of Weyl Group Representations”. In August he visited Japan for the Summer Conference on Hyperplane Arrangements, held August 8-12, 2016 at Hokkaido University (our own President William S. Clark became the first leader of Hokkaido University in 1876). At this conference Eric gave a talk titled "From Hyperplane Arrangements to Families of Weyl Group Representations". While there, he also visited the new Global Station for Data Science and Cybersecurity, which will host long-term visits by faculty from UMass Amherst and other institutions.

From May 17 until August 3, 2016 Visiting Assistant Professor Yaping Yang visited Professor Marc Levine at the University Duisburg-Essen in Essen, Germany. On August 5 she gave a talk at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. The title of her talk was "Quantum Groups and Cohomology Theories".

Professor Hongkun Zhang had a busy summer organizing an international conference as well as a workshop. The International Conference on Statistical Properties of Nonequilibrium Dynamical Systems was held in the South University of Science and Technology of China (SUSTC) in Shenzhen, China, from July 27 until August 2, 2016. In conjunction with that conference a workshop was held during the period July 4-26, 2016. Visiting Assistant Professor Jianyu Chen helped Hongkun organize both the conference and the workshop. The goal of the workshop and conference was to bring together an excellent group of researchers from around the world to discuss new research results and to explore new ideas and powerful new mathematical tools to deepen our theoretical understanding of the dynamical underpinnings of non-equilibrium systems and classical statistical physics. More than 120 people participated in the conference, including many leading world-experts in several research fields. At the workshop Hongkun gave a series of lectures on "Ergodic and Statistical Properties of Billiards". The conference and workshop were sponsored by SUSTC as well as Hongkun's NSF conference grant, which is funded by the Analysis Program in the Division of Mathematical Sciences at NSF.  

From May 17 until August 3, 2016 Visiting Assistant Professor Gufang Zhao visited the University of Duisburg-Essen in Essen, Germany. During August 2016 Gufang visited Zhejiang University. On August 5 he gave a seminar talk titled "Elliptic Quantum Groups and Affine Grassmannians over an Elliptic Curve".

May 2016

On May 16, 2016 Visiting Assistant Professor Stathis Charalampidis gave an invited talk at San Diego State University with the title “Dark-Bright Solitons and Their Two-Dimensional Counterparts in Coupled Nonlinear Schrödinger (NLS) Systems.”

On May 10, 2016 Professor Matthew Dobson gave an invited minisymposium talk at the SIAM Conference on Mathematical Aspects of Materials Science in Philadelphia. His talk was titled “Information Theoretic Fitting for Coarse-Grained Molecular Dynamics.”

On May 9, 2016 Professor Michael Lavine presented “Deformation Models for Fingerprints” at SAMSI's Forensic Science transition workshop.

The paper by Professor Yao Li titled "Convergence to Global Equilibrium for Fokker-Planck Equations on a Graph and Talagrand-Type Inequalities” was published in Journal of Differential Equations, 261 (2016), pp. 2552-2583.

During the period May 9–12 Professor Franz Pedit visited Technical University Munich to continue his collaboration with Professor Josef Dorfmeister on the classification of constant mean curvature surfaces in Euclidean space. Between May 13 and May 20 he visited the SFB 109 "Discrete Geometry and Dynamics" at Technical University Berlin to continue collaboration with Professor Ulrich Pinkall on conformal Willmore flows of surfaces. Finally, Professor Pedit spent May 21–29 at Tübingen University, working with Dr. Lynn Heller, Dr. Sebastian Heller, and Dr. Nicholas Schmitt on the construction of equivariant constrained Willmore tori and constant mean curvature surfaces of higher genus.


April 2016

On April 6, 2016 Visiting Assistant Professor Robin Koytcheff gave a colloquium at the University of Maine titled “Knots, Links, Linking Numbers, and More.” On April 28 he gave a talk at the Topology Seminar at the University at Albany titled “Finite-type Invariants and Taylor Towers for Spaces of Knots and Links.”

On April 21, 2016 Professor Rob Kusner lectured in the Geometry & Analysis Seminar at the University of California Santa Cruz.

On April 2 and April 3, 2016 Professor Michael Lavine was a consultant and judge at the 2016 DataFest.

March 2016

On March 8, 2016 Visiting Assistant Professor Stathis Charalampidis gave an invited talk at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME with the title “Dark-Bright Solitons and Their Two-Dimensional Counterparts in Coupled Nonlinear Schrödinger (NLS) Systems”.

During February and March 2016 Professor Krista J Gile gave departmental seminars at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (February 17), Yale University (March 1), and McGill University (March 15). She also gave a slam talk and poster at the UMass Computational Social Science Institute CSS and Health Mixer on March 25.

During March 2016 Professor Nestor Guillen visited the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University, both to conduct research and to speak in the Geometric PDE Seminar (Wisconsin) and the Analysis and PDE seminar (MSU). At both universities he gave a talk titled “Min-Max Formulas for Integro-Differential Equations and Applications”.

On March 12, 2016 Visiting Assistant Professor Robin Koytcheff gave a talk titled “Homotopy String Links, Configuration Spaces, and the Kappa Invariant” at the 50th Spring Topology and Dynamics Conference at Baylor University in Waco, TX. 

On March 3, 2016 Professor Michael Lavine delivered the talk titled “WHIM: Function Approximation Where It Matters” at North Carolina State University.

Professor Yao Li gave the following talks during February and March 2016: (1) “Systematic Seasures of ODE-Modeled Complex Networks”, MBI Emphasis Workshop: Interplay of Stochastic and Deterministic Dynamics in Networks, Ohio State University, February 23 (invited talk); (2) “Nonequilibrium Steady-States for Some Interacting Particle Systems”, Probability Seminar, Brown University, March 15 (invited talk); (3) “Polynomial Convergence to Nonequilibrium Steady-States”, Seminar on Stochastic Processes 2016, University of Maryland, March 18 (short talk). The following paper co-written by Yao was also published: "Local Thermal Equilibrium for Certain Stochastic Models of Heat Transport" (with Peter Nandori and Lai-Sang Young), Journal of Statistical Physics, April 2016, Volume 163, Issue 1, pages 61-91.

On March 17, 2016 Professor Jenia Tevelev delivered a talk titled “The Craighero-Gattazzo Surface is Simply-Connected” in the Séminaire de géométrie algébrique de Jussieu in Paris <https://www.imj-prg.fr/tga/sem-ga/archives.html>.

During the period March 14-20, 2016 Visiting Assistant Professor Yaping Yang visited the Perimeter Institute forTheoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada.

During the period February 28 - April 30, 2016 Professor HongKun Zhang was a Visiting Professor at Warshington University in St. Louis. She gave an invited talk titled “Diffusion Billiard Models” in the Geometry Seminar.

On March 3, 2016 Visiting Assistant Professor Gufang Zhao visited the State University of New York in Albany, where he gave a talk in the Algebra and Topology Seminar titled “Quiver Varieties and Elliptic Quantum Groups.” During the period March 14-20, 2016, Visiting Assistant Professor Gufang Zhao visited the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada. On March 17 he gave a 90-minute talk in the Mathematical Physics Seminar titled “Quiver Varieties and Elliptic Quantum Groups”.

February 2016

On February 17, 2016 Professor Tom Braden gave a talk in the Stony Brook University Algebraic Geometry Seminar titled “Modular Representation Theory, Springer’s Resolution and Hypertoric Varieties.”

Professor Matthew Dobson presented a poster titled “Algorithms for the Long-time Simulation of Steady Nonequilibrium Flow” at the COSMOS workshop in Paris. The workshop took place February 2-5, 2016.

On February 24, 2016 Professor Patrick Flaherty published a paper titled “GEMINI: a computationally-efficient search engine for large gene expression datasets” in BMC Bioinformatics with Hachem Saddiki, a graduate student at UMass Amherst, and Timothy DeFreitas, an undergraduate student at WPI, now at the Broad Institute. The article is open-access and available at http://bmcbioinformatics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12859-016-0....

Between February 5 and February 7, 2016 graduate students in the department, including Emma Kearney, a MSc student in statistics, and Ankita Shankhdhar, a MSc student in applied mathematics, assisted in organizing an interdisciplinary event with the goal of using ideas from mathematics, statistics, and computation to analyze a dataset provided by the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA). More than eighty graduate students from all over campus participated in the event. The event was organized by the “Graduate Researchers interested in Data” (GRiD) group.

On January 26, 2016 Professor Rob Kusner led a group of about sixty U. C. Berkeley Math Circle students, whose ages ranged from 7 to 17, in a two-hour investigation of link topology and the geometry of equilibrium configurations of electrons on the sphere. One of the most crowd-pleasing activities was when trios of students linked arms to make Borromean Rings and other 3-component links! (Where is our Five Colleges Math Circle?!) Rob also lectured on “Soap Bubbles, Spherical Metrics and Quadratic Differentials” in the February 16 Riemannian Geometry Seminar at MSRI.

Professor Michael Lavine attended and made brief presentations at the SAMSI Workshop on Optical Imaging Data Analysis, February 1–2, 2016.

Professor Ivan Mirkovic attended the Conference on Geometric Representation Theory, which took place at the Simons Center at Stony Brook University during the period January 4–29, 2016. He gave a 90-minute talk on “Loop Grassmannians, Classifying Spaces and Local Spaces.”

Professor Franz Pedit gave three invited talks at the OCAMI-KOBE-WASEDA Joint International Workshop on Differential Geometry and Integrable Systems sponsored by the International Research Network Project “SYMMETRY, TOPOLOGY and MODULI.” The dates in February 2016, the locations in Japan, and the titles of the talks are as follows: (1)  February 13, Osaka, “Harmonic Maps and the Self Duality Equations”; (2)  February 14, Osaka, “Hilbert’s 21st problem for Loop Groups with Applications to Surface Geometry”; (3) February 18, Tokyo, “Constrained Willmore Surfaces and Conformal Willmore Gradient Flow.”

During the period February 7–12, 2016 Visiting Assistant Professor Yaping Yang attended the Workshop on Vertex Algebras and Quantum Groups, which was held at the Banff International Research Station. She gave a talk titled “Cohomological Hall Algebras and Affine Quantum Groups.” Details about the conference are available at http://www.birs.ca/events/2016/5-day-workshops/16w5070.